Not Just Child Support: Contribution to Child Expenses

     Money    Most people are familiar with the general concept of child support, its purpose, and how it is calculated under Illinois law.  Section 505(a) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (“IMDMA”) provides concrete guidelines of support obligations based on the number of minor children between the parties.

            However, an obligor who is ordered to pay the statutory amount of child support may oftentimes be surprised to learn that he or she may be required to provide additional support for the benefit of the minor child.  It has become the norm for courts to order both parents to also contribute towards the minor child’s uncovered healthcare expenses, daycare or childcare expenses, education expenses, and extracurricular activity expenses.  In fact, the Illinois legislature even codified this practice of expanding the parents’ duty of support by adding a relatively new provision into Section 505 that specifically grants the courts discretion in ordering either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child of the marriage to contribute towards these aforementioned expenses.

Further, support for one’s child may not necessarily end when the child becomes emancipated.  Section 513 of the IMDMA provides the court the authority to order either or both parties to pay for college expenses of the child.  This provision, separate from Section 505, broadens the extent and timeframe of a parent’s duty to support his or her child.  Parents may be required by the court to pay for their child’s college expenses years after child support has been set.

Parties to a divorce proceeding with minor children need to be aware that, in addition to the statutory child support obligation, he or she may be further ordered to contribute towards healthcare, daycare, extracurricular, and educational expenses incurred for the benefit of the child.

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